Page 4307 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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A few playgrounds have been brought to my attention in particular in needing some work. The really fantastic new pod playground at the arboretum needs gates in the fence, as I have mentioned before. There are two small playgrounds in Rivett that both suffer from neglect, aged equipment and peeling paint. One is on the square surrounded by Salsola Street and Yate Gardens and another on the corner of Carbeen Street and Santalum Street.

In Ngunnawal near the shops there is a park that is generally old and run down. The equipment is a little high for children to reach and some minor repairs have been attempted. Amaroo has a park that is directly next to one of Amaroo’s ghost houses, which has 41 panes of broken glass and several other windows that have been boarded up. It is certainly not the place you would take your children for a fun afternoon of play. The park itself has a bit of graffiti. I think I have mentioned before in this place the four phallic symbols that have been spray-painted on a metal tunnel, and that is not very nice. Some of the safety cushioning has been ripped off one of the pieces of equipment, leaving exposed hard edges.

Campbell also has an aged playground that is not suitable for younger kids and is need of some general maintenance. It is very difficult for small children to climb on chain ladders or inclining horizontal bars, because their legs are just not long enough.

In the Gungahlin town centre—and I believe Gungahlin is still one of the biggest area for under-five-year-olds in Canberra—there is only one extremely small playground, in the actual town centre. This playground would benefit from some well-planned additional equipment as well as a fence, as it sits between two relatively busy roads, Gungahlin Place West and Gungahlin Place East. I wrote to the minister about this playground; his response was: “The partial fencing of the site is a design feature intended to provide some increased level of security and safety which is balanced against an open environment so that children who are accompanying their parents in the town centre are able to spontaneously utilise the play equipment.” I would like the minister to have a think about spontaneous play, because between two roads is not necessarily the best outcome. Imagine for a moment your two hands holding onto three children going for a play at the park and trying to stop them from running across a busy road. No, indeed; spontaneous play is not desirable at this particular playground.

I wonder if we can all try and imagine getting to the park after doing three-hourly feeds during the night, unloading the children and finding that the baby needs feeding. You get ready to feed, you get the baby feeding, and the other child you are looking after, the toddler, wanders out of the playground area. Actually it is very important that there are some parks that are fenced so that mums who are breastfeeding can go to the park as well.

What parents and carers need to be able to do is to let their children learn in a suitable environment. Some kids do run; some are adventurers; some are born with no fear. Some mums, as I have said, have to feed, and to watch a couple of active toddlers at the same time can be difficult. Some parents and grandparents are at the end of their nervous ability to cope by the time they have made it around the supermarket. Our playgrounds should serve the whole spectrum of children and carers.

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